The DP World Tour, formerly the European Tour, has responded to a letter from sixteen LIV Golf series players who are threatening legal action after they were sanctioned for participating in the first event of the controversial Saudi-backed series in London.
In a statement shared with CNN, DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley said the letter, which was published in an exclusive report in The Telegraph, contained “so many inaccuracies” that it couldn’t remain unchallenged.
Last week, the Tour fined the 16 players £100,000 ($121,230) each and banned them from several events, including the Scottish Open, for participating in the inaugural event of the LIV Golf series without receiving proper releases to do so.
According to the DP World Tour Members’ General Regulations Handbook, players must receive a release to participate in an event that is scheduled at the same time as a DP World Tour event.
The Tour also warned that future participation in the Saudi-backed breakaway series, without the required release, could incur further sanctions.
On Thursday, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, along with 14 other golfers, asked the DP World Tour in an open letter to rescind the fines and allow them to participate in next week’s Scottish Open by 5 p.m. on Friday, July 8 according to the Telegraph.
“Instead of spending our time, energy, financial resources and focus on appeals, injunctions and lawsuits, we would implore you … to reconsider your recent penalties and sanctions,” the letter read, according to the Telegraph.
“If not, you will leave us with no choice but to employ the various other means and methods at our disposal to rectify these wrongs.”
The DP World Tour’s Pelley says the players knew about the potential consequences before they participated in the event in London.
“Before joining LIV Golf, players knew there would be consequences if they chose money over competition. Many of them at the time understood and accepted that,” Pelley said.
“Indeed, as one player named in the letter said in a media interview earlier this year; ‘If they ban me, they ban me.’ It is not credible that some are now surprised with the actions we have taken.”
Last month, the PGA Tour announced that all golfers who played in the controversial series will be banned indefinitely from participating in Tour-sanctioned tournaments
LIV Golf is organized by LIV Golf Investments and backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) – a sovereign wealth fund chaired by Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and the man who a US intelligence report named as responsible for approving the operation that led to the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The crown prince has denied that he ordered Khashoggi’s murder but has said that he bears responsibility. “This was a heinous crime,” he said in an interview with CBS in 2019. “But I take full responsibility as a leader in Saudi Arabia, especially since it was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government.”
The second LIV Golf series event teed off on Thursday at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club near Portland, Oregon.